Even though it goes without saying, at large, the US Military Academy at West Point has played a pivotal role in American history, and still does, since the American Revolutionary War, when the Continental Army occupied West Point in 1778 and built the Great Hudson River Chain to prevent British vessels from navigating upstream. The Academy has educated, trained and inspired individuals who have shaped history – US Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, or Generals as George S. Patton and Stanley A. McChrystal to name a few – as well as those who will in years to come. The Academy hosts several institutes as the Modern War Institute (or the Combating Terrorism Center), whose aim is to bridge theory and practice. The most important aspect for me, in fact is that most of the large volume of reports, analyses, and commentaries produced by the MWI, have been written by the military staff, adding on-the-ground and technical experience to a purely academic vision. Such works not only have the power to inform key policymakers, but also ensure availability to the public. This is especially true for the Institute’s podcast (https://mwi.usma.edu/category/podcasts/).
I chose to intern at the Modern War Institute for three main reasons: first, while my concentration in SSP is Terrorism and Sub-State Violence, I wanted to step out of my ‘comfort zone’ and approach a different area, especially after having taken Grand Strategy and Military Operations and Counterinsurgency. Secondly, given the history of West Point, I wanted an opportunity to visit and experience the place – I had a chance to explore the campus, spend time at the Academy’s library and go to West Point’s museum a couple of times. This goes for the wider Hudson Valley area as well. Finally, being an international student, a work experience at the Modern War Institute at the US Military Academy could be a unique and a valuable asset, a good talking point for potential job interviews here in the United States.